“If you surround yourself with voices that echo similar opinions to those you’re feeding out, they will be reinforced in your mind as mainstream, to the point that it can distort your perception of what is the general consensus.” – Alan Martin, Wired
As we emerge from global isolation, there are several things we will need to continue to grapple with, even though we can’t always hide behind the comfort of our computer screen. Social media has allowed us to see deeper windows into the souls of many of our colleagues, friends, and family members. In many cases, we have been pulled out of our echo chambers for the first time as something struck our conscious in a different way than those we have looked to in the past for guidance.
An echo chamber creates a polarization effect – it’s a space where we feel comfortable because everyone around us shares our opinions, and are more likely to see those who don’t share our opinion as “wrong” or “weird.” Over the past year, many of us have had our blinders lifted. We realize the harm our echo chamber has inflicted on our Spiritual growth and it’s caused a lot of confusion.
Some of us feel betrayed by those we once considered our mentors. We feel we’ve been led astray. Others feel abandoned. We were taught to stand on a set of convictions that we still cling to while our leaders compromise and justify ignoring everything they once taught as truth. These situations aren’t isolated and they have left many wondering if a mentoring relationship is a wise investment. Yet we also know that Generation Z is longing for adult mentor relationships so much so that they view themselves differently when adults invest time in them.
I believe this is true for all of us. When we have a mentor coming alongside us, cheering us on, our confidence grows. When we have someone who we can ask questions of, who will provide a different perspective, we step into our decisions more confidently. When we have someone who can pull us out of a wilderness season and redirect our thoughts back to God we are living life as God created us to, in community with other believers. Titus 2 reminds us that part of the function of the church body is a cycle of mentoring relationships.
What to Look for in a Mentor
Part of knowing how to find a mentor is knowing what characteristics you need in your mentor. Here’s a list from Lifehack.org:
- Great mentors show interest in your success
- Great mentors are vested in your success
- Great mentors are aligned with your best interest
- Great mentors focus on helping you be the best you can be
- Great mentors do not compete with you but rather complement you
- Great mentors are not afraid of your successes or threatened by them
Pretty generic right? That’s because most mentoring relationships are framed within the context of career development. And a mentor who will guide you in your career is an excellent opportunity. Especially if you are an entrepreneur or work independently most of the time.
Mentors are also helpful in different seasons of life transitions. For example, if you are transitioning from working full-time to becoming a stay-at-home mom for the first time it will be helpful to connect with a SAHM who is a few years ahead of you. If you’re entering the workforce or headed back to school after a hiatus at home someone who understands your life stage would be a great encouragement.
If you’re newly married you will find that the advice and support of a wife or married couple ten years into their marriage will be incredibly helpful as you navigate the first few years adjusting to life together.
Most importantly, in my opinion, it’s always a great time to have a mentor who can encourage you Spiritually. Someone just a little further ahead in life who has been walking with the Lord for a while and can offer you their perspective on Scripture. As you read the Bible together you will likely learn from each other. What’s most important is accountability and respect as you learn.
Take time to decide what you would like in a mentoring relationship. That will make the next part easier.
How Do You Find a Mentor?
Once you know what you’re looking for in a mentor start by making a list of people in your circle who you think fit the role. Is there anyone you socialize with through community events, church activities, or work that you really enjoy? Is there someone whose advice you’ve taken in the past and find to be very thoughtful in the wisdom they offer? Consider reaching out to them first.
If you can’t think of anyone in your immediate circles consider expanding the network. Do you have any friends of friends that fit your ideal candidate list?
If you attend church reach out to the small groups or adult ministries pastor. Inform them of your desire for a mentor. They may have some ideas of people to connect you with, and if not, perhaps it’s time to ask them why they don’t!
Do you enjoy a specific hobby, sport, or participate in a club? Start to listen a little closer to people. Ask questions and consider answers. A mentor may be someone you look at as a peer in some aspects of life and consider a mentor in other areas. Remember, a mentor is someone who’s there to encourage you, cheer you on, and offer a different perspective. They are someone to do life with, but they don’t have to be your best friend.
For further reading consider: 10 Tips for Finding a Mentor—and Making the Relationship Count